removing resized in images
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Please try and read the post before voting in the poll, I didn't know it would shoot to the top. Also available on the Opposite Lock Drivetribe.
Shameless profiteering with badge engineering
Maybe it comes from that childhood goal of trying to learn as many cars as possible, but I'm really interested in cars in foreign markets. It can be like a weird alternate universe, seeing models that look familiar but different, finding certain types of vehicles that you really didn't expect that brand would sell, or discovering that they still produce that old discontinued model in some places. So I've saved you the trouble of going through every single global website of a car brand, and I'll try to explain it all. This list is accurate as of time of posting (well it aims to be), and won't be updated when their lineup is changed.
This one’s going a be a bit different, MG may not strike you as an obvious choice to cover, their lineup is pretty small compared to the brands I usually cover, but they have a surprising amount of different models spread across the planet anyways. Much to the ire of many, MG is currently owned by the Chinese company SAIC Motor, and are nearly unrecognisable from their past as a beloved sports car maker, with their current breed of budget family cars. MG shares a lot of platforms with SAIC's "premium" brand Roewe (the successor to Rover), with MGs often having sportier styling and greater focus on hatchbacks and fastbacks, compared to their more sedately-styled Roewe counterparts, with their 3-box saloon heavy lineup. In addition, owners SAIC often use MG to sell their other brands outside of China, to leverage MG’s mildly better brand recognition, and to try and bypass any negative connotations of Chinese cars. (It's a British brand! We swear!) As someone who's fascinated with badge engineering, MG greatly interests me.
Oh and MG's naming scheme is just like Mazdas. Make is MG, model is MG3, but you don't say MG MG3, it's just MG3. I guess it's a reference to names like the MGB. However, it's often inconsistent, sometimes there's a space, sometimes not.
MG’s small B-segment hatchback, this and the MG6 were the first all-new MG models after the start of its new Chinese era. Introduced in 2011, it’s still hanging round on sale in places like Thailand and the UK, and currently on it's 2nd facelift. It's cute!
In contrast, GRRRRRR.
Only sold in China for now, this shares a platform with the Roewe i5, and when compared to that car, the MG has a much more sloped roofline for a more fastback look, although it doesn't have a rear hatch, just a standard trunk. Lame. Currently in it's second generation.
MG5 / MG5 EV
Notice how there was no attempt to introduce any of MG's design language. This lazy rebadging will become a theme.
There was a several year gap between the end of the 1st gen MG5 and the start of the 2nd gen MG5. Therefore, SAIC rebadged the Roewe i5 as the new MG5 to fill in the gap for export markets. Quite a few of MG’s export lineup are rebadged Roewes, and it’s fitting MG and Rover reborn would share cars.
Quite unusually, the Roewe i5 was launched as an electric estate first, as the Roewe Ei5, with the petrol saloon coming later, and you can’t get the saloon as an EV and vice versa. The Ei5 is sold in Europe as the MG5 EV, where it takes the crown of the first electric estate to be sold there.
MG6 / 6 / MG6 Classic
The MG6 is now in it’s second generation, where it is based off the (but not a rebadged) Roewe i6. It was recently facelifted, and is the first to feature their new design language, with a much more angular front end and "digital flame grille". You can also get it as a plug-in.
But the rest of the world hasn't switched to the facelift yet. They'll also continue to sell the old model in China as the MG6 Classic. It’s not uncommon to sell the last-gen model alongside the new one, but the last-facelift model?
ZS / ZX / ZS EV / ZST
MG’s small crossover, that shares it's name with the unrelated MG from 2001. I guess they still had the trademark and it just fit into their SUV naming scheme. Presumably because of this, it was originally planned to be named the XS in Britain, but it ended up staying as the ZS, maybe so it didn't sound like excess. Shares a platform with the Roewe RX3.
Also comes in electric form as the EZS, or the ZS EV outside China, and in a few places, this is the only version available. It’s still based off the pre-facelift model though. In Australasia and Bahrain, the facelift model is named the ZST, as the pre-facelift model will continue to be sold alongside it for a year or so as a budget alternative (not in Bahrain though). What is it with MG still selling the pre-facelift models?
HS / Pilot
Moving up a segment, this shares a platform with the electric Roewe Marvel X, and serves as the conventional petrol counterpart to that car, with a plug-in hybrid available too.
There’s also the MG Pilot, which confusingly is also the name of MG’s driver-assistant suite. It's really a facelifted HS with MG’s brand new corporate face, though it’s unclear whether this will replace the HS in China, or if it will be sold alongside it as a more sporty or premium version.
Although this was effectively replaced by the HS, it continues to be sold in Peru and Costa Rica. It shares a platform with the Roewe RX5.
While this is a Roewe RX5. I think this is because the HS is slightly bigger and more upmarket than the GS to be considered a proper replacement, so the RX5 was introduced as a more budget friendly alternative to the HS for emerging markets.
The name comes from the Hawker Hector biplane used by the RAF, and also the Trojan prince killed by Achilles. I don’t think the super friendly name really suits this boldly styled SUV, but I’ll take it over MG’s confusing alphanumerical system.
Don’t worry, this is not based on a Roewe. Finally! It's actually a rebadged Baojun 530. Only sold in India, it was actually the model that launched the MG brand in the country, so they actually put in effort transplanting MG’s corporate "star-rider" grille onto it. Baojun is SAIC’s joint venture with General Motors, and serves as their budget brand, making it more suitable for the Indian market than a Roewe-based model.
There is also a version available with a third row called the Hector Plus, which also has different styling. Despite the name, there are no actual changes in size, the original Baojan 530 also has a third row option.
WHERE’S THE ROTARY?!!!
Only offered in the Middle East, this is a badge engineered Roewe RX8, and is a proper large body-on-frame SUV. The Middle East love these types of vehicles, models like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol often take the top spots of best selling vehicles there.
This one takes it’s name from the Gloster Aircraft company.
Just for India, there’s the MG Gloster, a rebadged Maxus D90. It shares the same ladder frame as the RX8 above, but is much cheaper. Maxus is the continuation of the old British van company LDV, and serves as SAIC’s commercial vehicle brand, but also offer a few minivans and SUVs.
Only sold in Thailand, this is a rebadged Maxus V80, which is the LDV Maxus from 2004! Only available as a passenger version though.
Pickups represent over 50% of motor sales in Thailand, and they greatly prefer the extended-cab bodystyle, maybe the name is an attempt to reflect this.
Also for Thailand, they get a pickup, a rebadged Maxus T70. The heresy! It uses the same frame as them body-on-frame SUVs mentioned before that you forgot the names of. Once again, when an MG doesn’t have an alphanumeric name, it has a weird nonsensical name. Well at least they put in some effort with the MG grille.
Usually, I put just a couple of discontinued models from the past few years, mainly because some really interesting models always gets killed off as I'm putting together these lists. But here, I'm going to list every single MG sold under Chinese ownership.
This was the predecessor to the MG3, a rebadged Rover Streetwise, the "off-roader" version of the Rover 25, and also what the SW stands for. Despite the London Eye and Big Ben in the background, it was only offered in China.
The 1st gen MG5 was a Focus sized hatchback, that for some reason, never came to Europe, despite how well it seems it would’ve fit. It effectively served as a hatchback version of the Roewe 350 saloon.
GT / MG5
This is the 4 door saloon version of the MG5 (and was marketed as such in certain markets), and the swoopy alternative to the Roewe 350. As you can see the current gen MG5 is more of a direct successor to the GT than the regular MG5 hatchback.
As the GT would only be released in 2014, before that they just sold the Roewe 350 with MG badges for export markets, such as the Middle East. At least the naming scheme here unintentionally fits the MG naming scheme more, as the MG 3 can be implied as the MG 300.
The Roewe 350 was replaced by the Roewe 360, and so the MG version was updated as well. I guess they thought a more conventional saloon would sell better in some areas than the sleeker GT.
MG6 / 6
Like it's predecessor the ZS, difference between saloon and liftback models are super subtle.
Released in 2010, the first generation MG6 was the first all-new MG model since... the 2003 XPower SV? Does that even count? The flagship for MG’s relaunch, it shares architecture with the Roewe 550 (and therefore might even have some Rover 75 parts) and unlike the Roewe, is also available as a practical "GT" liftback version.
In a few places like the Middle East, they sold a badge-swapped Roewe 550. The MG6 was sold alongside the 550 as a sportier alternative. I don't know why they bothered.
The MG6 may have been the first all-new MG, but this was actually the first MG released as part of their new Chinese ownership, although there are quite a few different versions. This is a reworked and rebranded MG ZT, only built and sold in China, and tuned more for comfort than sportiness. It uses the pre-facelift styling for some reason, prototypes did had the post-facelift styling..
They also sold the longer Rover 75 limousine, which was renamed as the MG 7L.
The Rover 75 and it's derivatives had a shocking amount of front bumper variations, I want to make a post covering them all one day.
There was also the MG 750, which was a rebadged Roewe 750, which was based off the Rover 75, which remember, was the basis for the MG ZT. Oh God, the rebadges are rebadging itself. This was only sold in Peru and Chile. Compared to the 75 basis, the 750 has a slightly altered "premium grille", completely redone rear, new interior and the wheelbase was stretched, but not as long as the 7 limo.
The reason why the super similar 7 and 750 both exist is because when MG Rover was split up, Nanjing Automobile and SAIC were fighting over ownership of the brand, with confusion over who had rights to which designs, leading to both companies releasing their own separate versions. For more info, ChinaCarHistory has a nice writeup.
Remember when MG was a sports car company? Good times. The MG TF (and the brand as a whole) took a two year break from 2005 as MG was transitioning, and came back with minor updates in 2007, where production moved to China.
Close to production
Turns out there is a long history of showing off rebadged MG models that never enter production. Does that make them concept cars?
MG-3 / 3 ZR
Photo by nj1937 on XCAR 爱卡.
Remember how the MG 3SW was a rebadged Rover Streetwise? And how it seemed weird that the crossover version was offered, but not a regular version. Well Nanjing Auto did show off a regular version, that was a rebadged Rover 25.
Photo by 高建 for 汽车之家.
They also showed off the MG 3 ZR, a rebadge of the MG ZR, the MG branded hot hatch version of the Rover 25.
MG-5 / 5
Trying to fit an Octagon peg in a Viking ship hole. This lazy rebadging is very common on prototype MG models, as well as the 750. Photo by nj1937 on XCAR爱卡.
Nanjing also showed off rebadged versions of the Rover 45 at events, as the MG-5 (which preceded the actual MG5 that would be made later).
At the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show, they showed off another version of the MG 5, this time a rebadged MG ZS (the performance version of the Rover 45). Ultimately rights issues led to the cancellation of both the original MG3 and the MG5, for more info, ChinaCarHistory has another article about that.
7 Coupe Concept
In 2004, Rover made a coupé version of the 75 as a concept. Fans hemmed and hawed, but it never entered production. At some point the concept gained exterior MG badges, and ended up displayed at MG’s old Longbridge factory.
E50 / dynamo Concept EV
Photo by Ra Boe on Wikipedia.
In 2012, Roewe unveiled the Roewe E50 as a concept, and shortly after, it appeared at that year’s Hannover Messe 2012, badged as an MG E50. It was also displayed as an MG at the Thailand International Motor Expo 2013, without the decals.
Than in 2014, an updated version was shown to the UK as the MG Dynamo Concept EV, where it was put on display at their flagship showroom at Piccadilly, London. Although the E50 entered production in 2012 as a Roewe, the MG version never came.
Photo by Autocar India.
Now MG only just launched in India, and currently only sell a few models there. However, at the Auto Expo 2020, they showed off a whopping amount of new models. None of the following are officially confirmed to go on sale. Although most of MG’s cars are Roewes, most of these forthcoming models are rebadged Baojuns, their budget brand remember? Although Baojun are now moving upmarket, leading to somewhat of an identity crisis, but that’s besides the point.
This is a rebadged Baojun E200, yet another electric microcar.
Photo by Autocar India.
This is a rebadged Baojun 360, but now called 360M, presumably to avoid confusion with the MG 360, but it’s not like that was sold in India anyways. Although it looks like they added MG’s corporate grille, it’s actually unchanged from the CVT models, which has a different grille from the manual models.
Photo by Autocar India.
Rumoured to be MG’s next release in India, this minivan is a rebadged Maxus G10. Apparently it’s rear wheel drive. Hmmm.
Photo by Autocar India.
This is a rebadged Baojun RC-6. I can’t figure out a reason for the slight name change this time. Lot of outlets are calling it a weird crossover-sedan mix. Personally, I don’t see it, yeah the ride height looks a bit higher but that’s really it. Also has MG’s corporate grille, but once again, is unchanged from the original car. Maybe they’re intentionally changing Baojun’s design language for more convincing rebadges for MGs?
That illuminated MG badge is really something. Also, if you look very closely at the left of the picture, you can see they used an image of the original Roewe version! Photo by evo India.
This is a rebadged Roewe Marvel X, which if you remember from before (you don’t) is the electric SUV the MG HS (which one was that?) is based off. The original has a large fake grille, they’ve smoothed it out here for the MG, and I think it looks so much better and distinct.
So that’s a comprehensive look at every MG model under Chinese reign, minus their more traditional concept cars I guess. I went into this thinking of MG as currently the world's saddest car brand, but now I've looked deeper into it, I'm not sure. If you think about it, some things haven't changed: MG sells sportier versions of cars from another brand, they do tons of badge engineering, are generally affordable, and are run by a company with questionable management. On the other hand, MG may be SAIC's "sporty" brand, but execution is really lacking! None of their signature roadsters are here, no hot hatches or sports saloons, and word is, pretty much all of MG's models are pretty lacklustre to drive. And it's difficult to justify seeing the Octagon attached to massive luxury SUVs and pickup trucks. They also use a preposterous amount of classic MG models and Union Jacks in their marketing, and I'm pretty comfortable in saying that we can unanimously agree MG is no longer British. But hey, they've recently filed a patent for a production-ready looking sports car. Please make it, pretty please....
You can vote in the poll now. Or not.
I would put some links to my previous lists here buuuut....